maanantai 10. tammikuuta 2011

Golf Innovations from Theory to Practice through Research, Development, Design and Business

Golf innovations were discussed and promoted in a seminar organized at Aalto University in the middle of Finnish winter on Wednesday, 15th of December 2010. The event took place in the spirit of the EIT ICT Labs that will develop and deliver, for instance, excellence and entrepreneurship in education, novel ICT services, and an European open innovation ecosystem for ICT and its applications. The event brought together a number of speakers and participants representing both research and business.

The event was chaired by Dr. Timo Honkela who gave an opening talk titled "Golf as a source of wellbeing, as a research object and as a business area". In his presentation, Honkela described among other things a study by Karolinska Institututet in which it had been found that practicing golf prolongs life in the average by five years. In addition to what the original researchers report, he presented some hypotheses related to the mental side of golf: Golf has some aspects that remind meditation, it is a positive addiction that keeps golfers on the move, and it provides continuous learning challenges as well as many experiences at the social level.

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Kari Helin and Niko Helin from Innotiimi Ltd described in detail how the understanding and awareness of one's thinking style can support learning. Their company Innotiimi is famous for applying Jung's and Myers-Briggs' theory on thinking styles in business contexts and Kari Helin has authored influential books in this area in Finland. Based on his practitioner's interests, Kari Helin has earlier applied the methodology in orienteering and now they also have created an application for golf. They gave detailed examples on how different golfers have different tendencies that should be taken into account in training and playing.

Seppo Karikko and Tapio Santala presented the latest developments around 4dswing, a golf swing analyzer that has been even characterized to be the best in the world. The system is based on machine vision research. Karikko described the steps the system has taken in the Swedish markets and Santala gave some examples of its use. The system is useful for golfers who wish to fine tune their game with the help of dedicated coaches using the latest technology.

Pekka Niva from eisGOLF described innovations related to the extended use of a golf club card. In Finland, the information infrastructures are typically modern, and Niva explained how additional benefits can be gained by integrating different systems to provide seamless services for the users provided by the golf clubs. The main focus was in the activities that support successful golfing experience, e.g. related to registration process and customer benefits for regular golfers. The provision of such services requires that a large proportion of relevant stakeholders are included.

Mika Helenius, the Director of Service Design and Engineering (SDE) Master's programme at Aalto University, provided multiple insights on the requirements of success. The SDE programme is designed to meet the new complex digital service
engineering, design, and social systems intersection and integration challenges addressed by the industry and the research community. The core of the SDE program is research-to-operation oriented courses that integrate the learning outcomes of the other courses in the curriculum.

Mikko Manerus ja Elias Pietilä from Free Drop Innovations Inc. presented the GameBook concept that is an intuitive real-time event scoring system. GameBook is globally perhaps the best known Finnish golf innovation. In particular, the focus has been in the US markets where the company has gained considerable success. One of the ingredients for the success has been the fact that Free Drop Innovations has built a team that includes winners of British Open (Stuart Cink), European Tour events (Mikko Ilonen), NHL Stanley Cup (Teemu Selänne) and Apple Design Awards (Elias Pietilä).

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The event was generally considered successful by the participants who had a chance to discuss details of the existing products and services and to build basis for new innovations, for example, through finding new potential collaborators. The seminar ended informally by a small competition in a sports invention by Timo Honkela called golfling or gorfling. This sports is an amalgam of golf putting and curling.

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